12/11/2013 09:00 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

8 Funerals That Showed Us The True Emotion Of A Nation In Mourning

Tens of thousands of mourners gathered in South Africa on Tuesday, braving the cold and the rain to bid farewell to the unforgettable Nelson Mandela.

Held at the massive FNB Stadium on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Mandela's memorial service was attended by nearly 100 heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were also in attendance.

The Independent wrote Monday that Mandela's memorial "may be the biggest send-off in history." Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry, told the news outlet that the funeral service was "unprecedented."

“I don’t think there has been a funeral service like it in recent memory,” Monyela said.

The loss of life is always tragic -- but it takes someone truly unique to provoke the outpouring of love and grief of thousands.

Since 1945, only a handful of people have, in death, been so honored. Here, we list eight of them:

Funerals That Moved The Public